Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year


Just a short post during my hols to wish one and all a very Happy New Year!

I've been back in England visiting relatives and old mates over the past few days and I'm looking forward to the festivities in London tonight. Could be chilly!

"Normal" blogging will resume in 2010, if I survive ;)

Saturday, 26 December 2009

The Nightmare Noughties

So the dust has just about settled on yet another Christmas Day, which means that we can take stock, count our presents, our blessings and our lucky stars and get back to the real world just so we can start the twelve month countdown to the next "season of goodwill." (I had a marvellous Christmas, by the way. I bought my parents the one thing they have never in their entire lives, for a whole host of excellent reasons, bought for themselves, namely, a brand new, top of the range TV. They were surprisingly and gratifyingly thrilled by it.)

But Christmas is Christmas. For me, cynical as I am and, after the communal warmth of a dutiful morning mass had (quickly) worn off, and the postprandial hangover of Boxing Day political reflection kicks in, thoughts turn to the next decade. Fortunately, at least for me, Simon Heffer, who ordinarily these days comes across as a rather reactionary old duffer, has refound his radical voice and framed the "Noughties", from which we have all just emerged significantly scathed, in terms everyone must comprehend. As is my bad habit, I've copied it for you here:

It is customary to find a sobriquet for a decade as it comes to a close – the Naughty Nineties, the Roaring Twenties, the Swinging Sixties – but I can think of none to describe the Noughties that is fit for repetition in a respectable newspaper.

The commanding image of the decade remains, more than eight years after the event, that of the aircraft flying into the Twin Towers in Manhattan in September 2001. The battle of the civilised world against the lunacy of Islamic fundamentalism dominated and poisoned the rest of the decade.

However – and however callous it seems to say it – we should have been lucky if that had been all we had to worry about in the past 10 years.

Sadly, it was not. Both away from the "global war on terror" and, most controversially, inherent in it, was a display of incompetence by a political class which it sought more and more to cover up by obfuscation, a retreat from democracy, and downright lies. We are reminded almost every day that lies were told to take us to war in Iraq, and that is probably so. Yet we hear less about the lies told to conceal the activities and identities of those responsible for the economic collapse in the developed world, which have done their own severe damage.

What happened to global prosperity in the Noughties was just as atrocious, in its way, as the conduct of terrorism and of some aspects of the battle against it. I wish we could have a proper public inquiry into the causes of that, with the persons responsible punished in an appropriately bankrupting way.

We leave this decade poorer than when we entered it. That is the result of having lived spectacularly beyond our means. We have, quite simply, not earned enough to afford the lifestyle we have chosen for ourselves: and now we are paying the price. Yet whose fault was that? Foolishly, many blame the bankers, easy scapegoats in a society driven by envy because of their champagne-stoked lifestyles and their vast bonuses. They also took idiotic decisions that imperilled the savings of their customers and the value of their shares – decisions that depleted the pension funds of millions of Britons.

But how were they allowed to do this? The answer is painfully simple. The same Government that refused to regulate the bankers properly also allowed an insane amount of liquidity to go into the economy, which gave them cheap material with which to play casino economics.

Labour's biggest lie is that America brought us the recession. The truth is that there, like here, the recession was brought to us by politicians, and Mr Brown is the prime culprit. This decade of debt is about to usher in a new one of hardship.

These failures were partly the cause of the advance of mediocrity. Around the world, too many leaders won office because they were good on television, or plausible con men. Too few reached the top because they were able and sensible. We are now all paying the price for being duped.

We shall be foolish if we don't learn a lesson from the enormous mistakes of the past 10 years. They are both social and economic. In the former sense, we must stand up for our right to a way of life as we desire it in this country, and as no one else has a right to dictate to us. Majorities have rights, too. Nor is there anything wrong with fighting to protect them, provided the battle is joined honestly and with democratic sanction.

And as for our economy: we have to close down large sections of the state. We have to get it out of our lives. We have to get our people off its payroll. We have to get our poor out of dependency upon it. In Britain, the decade ahead needs to be the decade of the individual. For it is we, the people, who will revive us, and not the state.

Think about that one thing, apart from all the other disasters: "We leave this decade poorer than when we entered it." Heffer is at his best when he presents to us in clear terms the simple, unhappy truth. He's done that here.

Our job is to make sure the next decade is successful, prosperous and, above all, politically rejuvenating. That's going to be tough, but it can't begin without the total destruction of the current travesty of a (British) government. When Brown's gone, we can begin.

Hope you all had a great day off, btw. I did :)

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christ's Gig

Left, right or sideways, I send you my sincere seasons greetings. If prayer is your thing (it's not really mine these days) then say a prayer for peace.

Even pop can be profound:



The beauty for the believers, I suppose, is that we are all meaningful parts of God's plan. And Christmas is part of that.

For the non believers and general killjoys, there's always Glastonbury. Both happen every year, after all.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The UK's Future: Social Unrest - and Better Music

I thought this conversation was fairly interesting, especially the parts where American former trader, Max Keiser, talks about the free market capitalism/democracy relationship and the major disappointment that is Barack Obama ("he's not a politician, he's a celebrity"). He's pretty good on the impact on our purchasing power of the explosion in money supply, too.

Whatever happens, 2010 will be one of the toughest years the UK has ever faced. The only silver linings, at least to me, are that Labour and the evil Brown stain, who caused the catastrophe in the first place and then prolonged it with a fake recovery (which has yet to materialise), will be kicked out of power, preferably forever - and popular music is likely to improve in inverse proportion to the social dislocation caused by the ongoing deterioration in the British economy, (otherwise known as The Clash Coefficient).

Monday, 21 December 2009

Class Hatred is Obsolete - So is Labour

I'm not proud to be what the Left would regard as "middle class" because I simply don't care. By the same token, I try not to define other people in terms of some ideological critique of their "origins", whether it be "working class" or, in the destructively hypocritical terms now being thrown around casually by Labour these days, the "privileged few" (as has been conclusively shown by the expenses scandal, there is no one more "privileged" in British society than a politican, whatever their putative stripe). I simply do not believe that it is true, let alone desirable, that people can be or should be defined in Marxist or neo-Marxist terms. Those terms are deliberately intended to deny individuality by confirming the supremacy of State. As far as I'm concerned, once you start down that track you are well on your way to tyranny.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, therefore, I was pretty angry when Labour attempted to make this "Tory toff" class hatred thing in the Crewe by election last year the core of their appalling campaign. This wasn't because I thought it would hurt the Tories - as usual, Labour patronised and underestimated the electorate, whom they generally appear to regard with contempt at the best of times, hence their massive defeat - but because I'd thought we'd long ago moved on from such a bankrupt characterisation of the population. I naively imagined that Labour had changed and that constructive politics within the framework of a pluralist, thriving liberal democracy, away from the fake divisions of the 70s and before, invented by the Left to simply further their boundless thirst for power and for the creation of the socialist Utopia. But I've repeated the mistake. You see, after their hammering in Crewe I had come round to the idea that maybe, finally, Labour understood that the flimsy caricaturing of their opponents as being, somehow, "class enemies" just won't fly in 21st Century Britain; that the penny had dropped and with it the lurch-to-the-far-Left campaign tactic that was doomed to kill them off as a force in British politics (or, perhaps, merely English and Welsh politics) for good.

Fortunately - because I want to see them drummed out of office for generations as punishment for the damage they've inflicted on every single facet of British society, having lied their way into power in the first place -so, yes, fortunately, I was completely wrong again. Alan Johnson, former union leader and NEC member and the chippy embodiment of the arrogant, smug, convinced class warrior that makes up the Left's population, has confirmed today that Labour is an unreformable dinosaur. This is what Benadict Brogan said earlier:

Alan Johnson had a go at ‘public schoolboy millionaires’ yesterday in the Sunday Times. “The Conservatives are the party of inherited wealth, private education and conspicuous affluence, ” he said. “If they were to win the election, you would have a mayor of London, chancellor of the exchequer and prime minister all coming from a tiny clique who went out trashing restaurants and left large wodges of money to pay for the damage.”

This has gone down badly at City Hall, where Boris “I fear no man” J0hnson is preparing his riposte for when he comes to face to face with the Home Secretary at the “Johnson v Johnson” debate organised next month by Policy Exchange. The event is ostensibly about PR, with Vernon Bogdanor seconding Johnson A and Lord Norton of Louth assisting Johnson B. But like a row about whether to put the toilet seat up, it can very quickly be turned into something else. I’m told Hizzoner is itching to “put that man Johnson in his place”. So book your seats now: the class war is about to go live
If Labour does pursue this futile line of attack on the Tories up to the General Election, they will be wiped out, possibly for good. People are sick of it, for one thing (Blair, for all his sins, knew that) and for another, it is perfectly clear to all but Brown and his henchmen that a massive proportion of the British public don't define themselves in these terms any more. They are not offended by money, as long as it is perceived to have been earned. So Cameron, Osborne and Boris Johnson will not be judged harshly by the electorate because of their backgrounds. Their parents were all hard working and successful and in that way, they are not what Labour thinks they are and desperately want us to think they are, namely, some sort of robber barons - and I don't mean in the metaphorical sense. It's the "flimsy caricaturing" I was talking about earlier and, quite simply, it won't work.

However, it's conclusively been demonstrated by idiot Johnson that Labour really are stupid enough to be planning to do just that. All I can say is that it will be enormously gratifying when this abject cynicism based on an obsolete, 19th/20th Century political ideology earns precisely the reward it deserves come May 2010.

I confidently predict that Labour will go the way of the dodo, and good riddance to it.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Handel and the Semi-Welshman

You could click on this link and visit the Half Blood Welshman's blog to read the original version of the latest wonderful instalment in his series on some of the great composers, or you could just read the stolen stuff, conveniently copied below. That's up to you. The reason why I've been so brazen in pirating, plagiarising and purloining the excellent post is that Handel is one of my three favourite music geniuses.

I really hope the HBW doesn't sue me. (Not that I really mind, er, mind ;)

The excellent article:
George Friedrich/George Frideric Handel (1685 - 1759)
Coming to the end of our time with the four great 09/59 composers, we come to arguably the greatest of them all, and certainly the most enduringly popular. Also, perhaps, the one who should not be bounded by national labels, being instead a true cosmopolitan - born in Magdeburg, trained in Florence and Venice, who from the age of 27 lived in London, spending much time in Dublin.

Among French musicians at the turn of the twentieth century, it was a standing joke that the English had only ever had one great composer, and they managed that by stealing him from the Germans. Yet that is a gross over-simplification of the role of Handel in music, particularly English language music. Although there was a tradition of English opera, oratorio and popular song established by Purcell, it was the music crafted by Handel - opera, but most of all oratorio - that carried it forward.

He also of course became involved in a very important English institution that was gradually extending itself into Scotland and therefore becoming British as well - the monarchy. In 1727 he was commissioned to write four anthems for the coronation of George II. By all accounts the coronation was rather chaotic, but the anthems stuck - all four remain readily available in print, and no. 3 especially, "The King Shall Rejoice", is a joy to perform. It's always rather overshadowed, however, by no. 1 - generally called "Zadok the Priest" after its opening line. So far has this slipped into the idea of the British monarchy - the British nation - that it is performed at every coronation, receiving its last outing for this purpose in 1953. Truly a remarkable achievement, even if I prefer the others musically.

Details of his life are at once crowded and sketchy. His chronology is readily available, but little is known about his home life, or the reason he never married. Despite frequent financial crises caused by ill-advised ventures into opera management, or poor compositions (all composers produce a fair share of stinkers if they write any volume at all) he died worth £20,000, worth certainly many millions in today's terms (there is no precise way of calculating worth from that time to this, given the variables involved). Most of this went to his niece, who had remained in Germany - it is doubtful that he knew her well.

In his music, he left all of us a much greater legacy. His operas fell into obscurity post mortem, but have recently enjoyed a modest revival. That is nothing, however, compared to the oratorios - popular at the time, and popular ever since. That said, most people just know the edited highlights of most of them. Anyone who has ever been to an Easter Day church service will surely have sung "Thine Be the Glory" - the tune, known as "Judas Maccabeus," was originally set to "See The Conquering Hero Comes," written first for Joshua and then added to Judas Maccabeus. Who has not heard the wonderful number "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba," from Solomon and Sheba, with its wonderful, flowing theme importing the grandeur of the occasion? I recommend it to all of my friends who get married as a processional piece - far better than Wagner's "Treulich Gef├╝rht." For myself, I have always had a definite soft spot for the Solemn March from Joshua - I play it at Remembrance Day services, and at funerals where appropriate. It was originally written to measure the tramp of the Children of Israel as they marched around the Walls of Jericho, before the trumpets laid them flat in ruin.

In the majority of his oratorios Handel created essentially an opera without the actions - a strong narrative, with almost enough for a staging of it as an opera. This is the classic format for an oratorio (Elijah being another good example). But in one, he broke that mould, and created a classic that remains perhaps the most performed work in all English music. I speak, of course, of Messiah.

Messiah is, despite the title, very little concerned with the life and teachings of Jesus. Instead, it draws heavily on the prophecies of the Old Testament (especially Isaiah) and creates an interpretation of who He was, what He means, and what will come to pass, exploring the themes of the virgin birth, the Crucifixion and Resurrection - then continuing to show what that will mean at the Day of Judgement. Handel is said to have written the music in just 24 days - admittedly drawing massively on his earlier works for inspiration, but setting everything anew, painting the words with the music, and creating a work that nobody who calls themselves a singer should pass up a chance of singing.

Originally purely secular and written for theatre, in the 19th century it became a staple of the church choir. With their decline since the 1960s, it continues to thrive as a popular number for choral societies. And of course, it is a much-performed work for charities, as a "come and sing" event - especially at the Albert Hall, where hundreds come to sing it every year. Handel's most popular work abounds with choruses - most famously, but not by any means most brilliantly, the Hallelujah Chorus. It is a measure of the work's quality that I at least consider that one of the weaker choruses. Handel gave us a genuine masterwork, one that I have no doubt will be performed as long as there are 50 people in four parts to sing it with an organist (or better yet, an orchestra) to play along.

Therefore it may come as a surprise that I am closing, not with a piece from Messiah, but from Samson. I have a soft spot for both Joshua and Samson, the more so because I have never yet had a chance to perform either. Given the variety and quality of Handel's output, some very fine stuff tends to get overshadowed. Here, at the end of Act Two, the Israelites and the Philistines are quarrelling over who out of Jehovah and Dagon are "fixed in his everlasting seat" hence the continual echoes. Maybe one day I'll have a chance to perform it myself!

But do not despair if you love Messiah! I have three more posts to come on this blog, and the last, the very last, will close with a little something from it. It feels like the right way to go out. Next week then: on Tuesday, the Welsh Blogosphere and blogging more generally: on Wednesday, the posts I personally liked best out of the 297 I have done so far: and on Thursday - well, a little something to finish. In the meanwhile, I give you Samson.

Fantastic. But just in case that's a bit too expert for you (it is for me), and just in case you still doubt him (or me), here's a truly remarkable performance of part of his Royal Fireworks. If any more evidence were really needed of the depth of this utterly gifted musical revolutionary's talent, then this must be it. His music is still extraordinary, in the true sense of the term.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

"Science Is Not A Belief System"

This, the core message of Monckton's typically impressive - and devastating - recent Berlin lecture, resonates more now than ever before, especially in the shadow of the Copenhagen travesty and the light of the Climategate scandal.

Lord Monckton on Climategate at the 2nd International Climate Conference from CFACT on Vimeo.

Hat tip: The Red Rag

Clearer Heads: Monckton Vs. "Greenpeace"



She's from Norway, so naturally she's an expert on all things icy. He (Christopher Monckton) is a logician and philosopher who knows precisely what he's talking about, given the depth of his many years of research, which has been a hell of a lot more rigorous than, say, a hoon like Monbiot's and this apparently rather friendly woman's. Sadly for her, she is comprehensively defeated in this interview, although that fact does not seem to shake her core belief system one iota, predictably. And there you have the problem in a YouTube nutshell.

Have faith, though, readers. Clearer heads, like Monckton's, might yet prevail. God help us all if they don't!

Hat tip: Plato Says

Monday, 14 December 2009

A Real Scientist...

Many thanks to Plato Says for flagging this clip a few days ago. What a breath of fresh air. Almost makes you want to become a Kiwi (ed: or an Aussie, even). (I'm still tempted, actually.)

Anyway, over to the sane Professor:

Climategate - The Scale of the International Stitch-Up

Ah, life. So much to do, so little time to do it. But I can always find time to flag up another emerging revelation in the increasingly appalling (is that possible?) Climategate saga.

This time, we find that former railwayman, "Dr" (of diesel locomotive engineering, lest we forget) Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has about as deep a conflict of personal business interest as it is possible to have, while chairing what is meant to be an independent and objective scientific oversight committee, without being laughed out of the job. The reason, apparently, why he hasn't been laughed out of the job, however, is that his conflict of interest is merely the tip of the proverbial - and truly vast - iceberg, when it comes to the whole nefarious and really rather sinister new industry known as carbon trading.

James Delingpole, naturally, has the story. Read it here - and weep (some more).

Meanwhile, winter storms are hammering much of North America (what, in winter!) and we ourselves are about to experience a pretty significant cold snap (no, you mean in winter! In Britain!! Surely some mistake). There's a multi-meter deep, rich covering of snow all over the ski resorts of Europe, as always (never, in the skiing season!!); glaciers at the poles stubbornly keep on growing and the sea has risen not one millimeter anywhere around this vast globe of ours (as far as we know - it's just about impossible to measure it to that degree of accuracy, remember, in spite of what MMCC, nee AGW, scientists claim).

And yet, the schitzoid media and utterly dishonest government keep on pushing the warmist, Copenhagen, stitch-up agenda, with, for example, Sky News's prepackaged (all the graphics were done long before Climategate but they've stuck with them nonetheless - they were jolly expensive, after all) "Turning Up the Heat" nonsense, complete with big red thermometer and reports from their man going live every night from the dwindling Brazilian rain forest (huh?); and making stuff up about "sunken" villages on tropical islands (the one in question was wiped out by a tropical storm many years back, folks - as they tend to be when they are, er, built along the coast in tropical storm zones) and generally trumpeting as much alarmist propaganda as is humanly possible for one rolling news outlet to churn out. Well, hey, it's all about the ratings, after all.

I could go on, I guess, but what's the point? I'm sure you get the idea, and what an hysterical one it is too. Just please read the Delingpole piece and make your own mind up. Suffice to say, my own view is pretty straightforward by now: climate change alarmism and what is now emerging as "Carbongate" are a global travesty on a scale never before seen. Conspiracy? Not really. Just an unfortunate combination of a basic contempt for the human race and an unhappy convergence of several vested interests, many of them fanatically motivated, all able to rally around the same myth of imminent human destruction (or was that planetary destruction - it's so hard to tell with these clowns). But, as is always the case, the biggest motivation of all for continuing to peddle and push this utter nonsense is, as it turns out, also the oldest one of all: simple greed.

As someone once said, always follow the money.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Real Rock

I need to remind myself of the real deal...



Ahh, that's better!

Fight the Man

I have been rightly accused of getting a wee bit obsessed with incomprehensibly awful music when I've had a wee bit too much of the old fruit of the grape. That's all true, but this one is a bit different. Just checking through my 'favourites' list on YouTube has revealed a shocking thing: the now-defunct Oasis has ordered its tame man managers, in a fit of what can only be called "naff pikey attitude", to purge the whole of the web of any embeddable video, (just to piss off the pisshead bloggers, no doubt). Well, I take umbrage. For no particular reason other than I like the word: "umbrage" - I'll take it.

And they're living in a fool's paradise if they imagine that through one massive act of YouTube vandalism they can stop me from randomly (though repeatedly with this one, which troubles me - somewhat) copying old pop videos to my blog whenever I've had a couple of bottles of good Shiraz. If they think that, then they are sadly mistaken.

I'm not pushing this Oasis vid this time - I don't even like it! - I'm using it as an example of the power of the internet (or, rather, of massively copied data and massively copying masses of people, like me). Well, anyway, my point to the purging Oasis managers and everyone else is that you can find this kind of mass-produced nonsense anywhere, anyway, in seconds.

It's that common.



See?

Friday, 11 December 2009

Pump Price Dislocation

I've been watching the oil price with some interest over the past few weeks, not least because there has been some speculation that it is entering a very bearish period - for traders, that is, not for consumers - due to oversupply (Iraq is coming back into the equation, for instance, combined with the fact that many companies 'parked' huge quantities of crude offshore in tankers to keep the price artificially high during 2009 and that has added to the glut now, especially in the US where demand is still relatively weak). The NYMEX price fell for the eighth consecutive day today to hit $69.63 - and the trend is still downward, not least because of a stronger dollar.

Now, I fully appreciate that the pound's relatively weaker value on the foreign exchanges and other factors, like the delay between the commodity's price fluctuations and price movements at the pump is normally around three weeks, but this does not explain why I am still being forced to fork out anything between 108 and 114 pence per litre today, given the significant recent falls in the price of the black gold. Those are $110 a barrel levels. By my back-of-an-envelope reckoning, even taking into account pricing delays and currency devaluations, I should not be paying much more than 98p per litre, perhaps even less. So what the hell is going on?

There seems to be a serious dislocation here - and we are being hammered because of it. Why? No idea, but it's inevitably not going to be a good reason in ripoff Britain, although I'm sure Treasury ministers and their oil company chums will have some patronising, soundbite excuse. So I expect any falls, which are long overdue anyway but might not be coming at all, to be swallowed up by the return to the very expensively, temporarily suspended 17.5% VAT rate. If the falls don't come in the next couple of weeks, why then, in January (unless oil prices fall substantially further, which is unlikely), we in Britain will have to cope with further forecourt price rises. Unbelievable!

I'm sure it'll make the watermelons happy but, Brown and Darling, this is no way to start an economic recovery. Idiots.

I wish we didn't sometimes act in this country like so many sheeple - me included.

Indefensible

HMS QE: casualty of Labour incompetence

Iain Dale had the story earlier this evening, but now that it has been confirmed on the Channel 4 news website, one can only say that this is the most extraordinarily shocking news yet about this wicked government's handling of a financial and economic disaster largely of its own making. Defence is to face Labour cuts of beyond 16% at a time when Britain is at war. On a day when Brown announced at the Copenhagen junket he was happy to waste a whopping (and borrowed) £1.5Bn of British taxpayers' money on other countries' infrastructure, we discover, via some sort of leak to a journalist, that billions are to be stripped out of the defence budget, including, potentially, the cancellation of two major capital projects (the two supercarriers and the A400 transport aircraft). Why? Well, on the face of it as a seriously belated reaction to the MoD's huge procurement mismanagement and overspend during Labour's disastrous period in office, but in reality because Labour cynically imagines that defence is not a priority for them because it does not appeal to its core vote or clientele. Perhaps that's why there was no mention of it in the PBR, another bit of brazen dishonesty beneath contempt on the part of Brown and his ventriloquist's dummy, Darling.

Meanwhile, our troops continue bravely to struggle through in Afghanistan, undermanned, underequipped and under-represented in Westminster. If you have found it difficult to contemplate the depth of the cynicism of this regime up to this point, this latest betrayal of our armed forces, already cut to the bone after 13 years of Labour hell, should leave no further room for doubt: the only thing they care about is saving their own skin. And that is indefensible.

My God, this stupifyingly duplicitous bunch of dangerous political whores calling itself a 'government' needs to be wiped out at the general election, or else they will truly annihilate Britain. They should be hammered into the dust, if not for these devastating cuts, for which there might have been an argument had they been but one component of a coherent, across-the-board emergency plan for tackling Labour's (and consequently our) deficit and debt crises, then for the abject dishonesty which this latest scandal once more exposes. This Labour government can't be straight with anyone, because it is, as a body of people, starting with its unelected liar-in-chief, Brown, a total stranger to the truth. It's habitual and they should be made to pay for that habit by being annihilated themselves - at the ballot box.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Not As Bad As We Expected: Far, Far Worse

Darling's Pre-budget nonsense represents the most appalling assault on the middle classes yet, who, as usual, are going to be squeezed dry to pay for useless Labour's economic bust. It also means that Brown Labour has now dropped any pretence that it cares about anything else other than its short term goal of somehow getting itself re-elected. In fact, though, it could be said that this dodgy dossier of Tory-bashing tribalism is so utterly awful that it amounts to a capitulation - at least by the feeble realist arm of Labour, possibly located at the Treasury. They can't win the next election based on an economic record as catastrophically terrible as Brown's, so the story goes, so why not use the remaining months of power to shore up the core vote and the heartlands? Limit the damage and bugger the country.

Benedict Brogan seems to think this - and more. The budget wasn't as bad as we expected, it was far, far worse.
Even before we’ve trawled through the small print on pensions and tax changes, the pre-Budget report has lived up to the billing. Scorched earth, poison pill, you can choose your metaphor but the key point is that this was a political statement designed to protect Labour’s sectional interests, boost its core vote and stuff the Tories at every turn. George Osborne will probably get the prize for offering the pithiest summary in his reply to Alistair Darling: the greatest golden rule of all is that you can’t trust a Labour government with your money.

Every other line in the Chancellor’s statement was shaped to make a political point: ‘unemployment is never a price worth paying’, ‘government action has made a real difference’, ‘those who doubt the effectiveness of tax credits’, ‘when we could have chosen to do nothing’, all direct digs at the Tories. The ship is sinking under him but the captain blames the passengers.

The measures likewise: for example, a whacking great increase in the value of the state pension (2.5pc when inflation is negative?!), ditto other benefits, represents a gratuitous increase in the cost of entitlements, in the knowledge that the Conservatives need to review them downwards. Reckless, unaffordable, yet how can the Tories reasonably be expected to reverse that one? Such is the political craftiness of Gordon Brown. Or take the freezing of the threshold on the 40p rate: all attention is on bankers, but this is where senior nurses, policemen, middle managers will suddenly find themslelves dragged into the higher rate. Then there’s the 0.5pc increase in NICs, and the pension cap on public sector workers. Ditto the tax on bonuses: a paltry £500m in, but how many billions out as confidence ebbs away from the City. And there’s the business about taxing employer pension contributions: it hits those on above £130,000 – wealth creators they may be but how much sympathy will there be for them? Again, crafty.

“We take these decisions from a position of strength,” Mr Darling said, to howls of derision from the Tory side. The economy is crocked, the markets are pulling the plug on UK plc (bookies have just cut the odds on us losing that AAA rating), and those whose efforts are needed to get growth going again are going to have to pay a lot more, so what is he talking about? The strength that comes from being the party in power, free to use the forces of Government to its advantage. It is in office, so it is still strong. It can be outrageous, it can trash the place, it can do what it damn well pleases because it knows that the mess will be for the Tories to clean up. Labour is already waiting to be in Opposition, shrieking at any attempt to undo any of this. The civil service has been muscled aside, its warnings ignored, Labour now at the controls shouting ‘Gordon is great’ as it pushes the throttle down towards the mountain ahead.

Excellent comment and that "you can't trust a Labour government with your money" is not just pithy from Osborne, but oh-so true, too. How much more evidence do people really need that this trainwreck regime is willing to take the entire country over the pricipice (which is what I assume Brogan means by his mountain metaphor) with it? As a reader of this blog said yesterday, this is not just as bad as 1979, it's much worse. At least Callaghan was a decent human being who understood, above and beyond the pettiness of tribal politics, that he and his government (especially Chancellor Denis Healey, but even he eventually put country before party and made, as David Hughes says, the "tough choices") had failed Britain.

Brown actually does know that they have failed Britain too. The difference is, in his arrogant dishonesty and visceral, irrational hatred of the party opposite, he simply doesn't care.

So if you are one of those who think Labour gives two hoots about your country, think again. The only thing that that corrupt, corrupting and bankrupt party cares about is itself, and this is embodied in the blind ambition of Brown, himself the worst Prime Minister this country has ever had inflicted upon it. But he and his party will cripple Britain for a generation before they give up power. It really is finally time for people to wake up to this reality and act accordingly.

Whether you happen to like it or not, the fact remains that the only way to get Brown-Labour out is to vote the Conservatives in. After this latest episode of scorched earth, recession-prolonging, gaga economics from Labour, there is surely now reason enough, if you are otherwise a Tory detractor (unlike me) to hold your nose, bite the bullet and take the plunge.

Never has this country more desperately needed to oust an irrational, wounded and dangerous government and a tainted, failed - and equally dangerous - Prime Minister. So that's the first thing that simply must happen and that means supporting the Tories. All else follows.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

UK Debt: Junk Bonds?

Today, the international (and all-powerful) New York credit rating company, Moody's, warned that thanks to Gordon Brown's disastrous financial policies over the past decade, which has left our public finances in a catastrophic condition and still worsening, UK government debt could be tested in the very near future and downgraded from AAA to A1. This would make government bond sales - its out-of-control borrowing, in other words - much more expensive and, as a consequence, would put Britain firmly on the road to debt default. In terms of the long term future of the British economy, however, this prospect is a serious but minor detail when compared to the scale and the cynicism of Brown's scorched earth policy in his attempt to dupe the population into thinking there is some form of economic recovery in his attempt finally to get elected. He's willing to risk the downgrade - and will go on spending us into oblivion - just to secure a mandate.

If the UK does emerge from recession this quarter - and, after today's terrible manufacturing figures, there must remain some doubt about even that modest hope - it will be a fake recovery fuelled by astonishing and, as the Moody's announcement today says in no uncertain terms, a totally unsustainable level of borrowing. My view? Well, it's difficult to express how troubled I am by polls which suggest that Brown's utter, utter dishonesty, delinquent economics and vicious political tribalism might somehow be starting to turn people's heads. But I suspect that that is more to do with the re-emergence of Alastair "David Kelly" Campbell and his narrative of triangulation, expediency, smears, spin and lies, which were all-too evident at last week's PMQs with the use by moron Brown of that ridiculous 'Eton' jibe.

Even if Campbell thinks he can lie Labour all the way to a fourth term, (and that's all he's ever achieved, beyond poisoning and corroding British politics during his terrible career - namely, to lie Labour's way into power three times) one thing even a complete stranger to reality like him can't do is spin his way out of a debt default, a currency collapse and a total meltdown in the public finances. He might have been able to lie his way into a major war, and out of responsibility for Kelly's suspicious suicide, but even Campbell can't mask a cataclysm of the scale of Brown's economic bust. Can he?

Finally, as is my wont, I'll quote David Blackburn's post earlier this evening on the subject of Brownomics and the credit downgrade in full. Because it's rather good.
Moody’s AAA sovereign monitor was published today, and whilst the UK’s AAA status remains ‘resilient’ the situation is far from rosy. The report states:
‘The UK economy entered the crisis in a vulnerable position, owing to the (overly) large size of its banking sector and the high level of household indebtedness. Both continue to weigh on economic performance. Net bank lending to the UK business sector has continued to contract through Q3 2009, and repairs to household balance sheets (i.e. the rising savings ratio) may weigh on demand for some time to come.

The depth of the crisis has been mirrored by the ongoing deterioration of public finances (with gross debt/GDP having risen from 44% at the end of 2007 to an estimated 69% at the end of 2009). It also raises considerable challenges going forward, as the downward adjustment of potential output during the crisis will result in a recurrent shortfall in tax revenues, which, if not compensated by a parallel adjustment in expenditure, would leave the government with a permanent deficit.’

First into recession because of Brown’s profligacy, Britain’s recovery is stunted by continued spending and the government’s inability to address the credit freeze. Moody’s assert that Britain’s AAA status will be endangered unless fiscal retrenchment is implemented soon, something that global bond markets are relying upon too. Moody’s assert:

‘While assumed capacity for fiscal adjustment currently supports the maintenance of the Aaa rating of the UK government, this assumption will have to be validated by actions in the not-too-distant future to continue to provide support for the rating.’

Britain cannot sustain this level of debt. We near an Ireland-style downgrading followed by an era of ruinously expensive borrowing. Labour’s political and economic strategy dictates that fiscal adjustments will not be undertaken until 2011. Tomorrow’s Pre Budget Report will contain time saving measures, in the form of further cheap, low yield gilts and perhaps more Quantitative Easing, to allow the government to execute its strategy, borrow cheaply and prepare for future retrenchment. Will the markets wait that long?

The need for a new Conservative government has never been more desperate - at least, not since 1979 and the last Labour economic implosion. Let us pray that Cameron knows how to make that case. But because he's now up against forces so cynical and so calculating, that job just became a lot tougher. Perhaps a credit downgrade, in the long run anyway, could end up being just the reality-checking medicine an electorate, still hoping against hope that Brown's crisis (if not Brown) will just magically go away, now requires.

Perhaps, in the long run, it's be the best thing that could happen to the UK, if nothing else than to snuff out Brown as a political possibility and save us from the total horror story five more years of his economic nihilism would guarantee. The stakes are that high.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Delingpole For PM

No, not Prime Minister (yet), but "Proven Massive" (in the Ali G vernacular, naturally). In case you can't be arsed to click through to the original post, (and why should you?), here it is in Gloriously Ripped Technicolor (GRT).

Truth to left-liberals is like garlic to vampires, so I suppose it’s no wonder the world’s watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) have been reacting so badly to Climategate.

A few days ago we had the hugely entertaining spectacle of climate activist Ed Begley Jr losing the plot completely on Fox news. (aka Tofu-crazed Vegan Goes Postal).

Yesterday, I understand, decrepit Politburo chief Gordon Brown decided that climate change sceptics – Does he mean me? He surely does! – were “flat-earthers.” I consider this perhaps the greatest badge of honour of my entire career. It’s like being called a “gibbering lunatic” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “a dangerous nutcase” by Charles Manson, “a sinister, slippery snake” by Lord Mandelson, “an utter bastard” by Joe Stalin.

And now, in case you missed it, I offer some delightful Newsnight footage of a very frustrated Professor Watson from UEA being goaded to the point of rude-wordery by the japesome Marc Morano. These climate fear promoters: they just don’t like it up ‘em!

There's a film, too:

It's official, folks: only "assholes" care about reality and humanity.

I, for one, am therefore a proud asshole.

Are you?

Friday, 4 December 2009

Rex Murphy: A Clear Assessment of Climategate

A big tip of the hat to the increasingly dangerous Barking Spider (a superior species of Independent Blogger) for putting me in the way of this wonderful commentary on the real implications of Climategate by someone who can hardly be described as a 'flat earther' (see Brown's front page slurs in tomorrow's Graun), namely, highly respected Canadian political commentator, Rex Murphy.



Who, in their right mind, can argue with that?

Ben Bernanke Bashes Brown

One of these two knows what he's doing

Having flailed around in my last blogpost banging on about some sort of 'new phenomenon' where there wasn't one, really, (I'll leave it for others to decide, but I reckon it was not my best effort to be brutally honest), it comes as something of a relief to see the Spectator doing what it does best and putting the boot in to old "saved the world" Brown himself. And all they had to do was flag up Bernanke's testimony to a Senate hearing about Brown's ultra-useless tri-partite banking regulation system. Here's what the report says:
Gordon Brown’s much heralded tripartite regulatory system failed the first time it was faced with a financial crisis, proof that taking away regulatory powers from the Bank of England was a massive mistake. Now, Ben Bernanke — who is trying to secure a second term as Fed Chairman and keep the Fed’s regulatory powers intact — is citing the Brown model as what not to do, telling the Senate banking committee:
"[O]ver the past few years the government of Britain removed from the Bank of England most of its supervisory authorities. When the crisis hit - for example when the Northern Rock bank came under stress - the Bank of England was completely in the dark and unable to deal effectively with what turned out to be a destructive run and a major problem for the British economy.”

As Paul Waugh points out, George Osborne and his team are rather pleased with this effective endorsement of their position by the Fed Chairman. Bernanke’s quote does rather show that Brown isn’t leading the world in quite the way that he likes to claim.

Very gently put by James Forsyth. In reality, what Bernanke is saying here is that Brown himself - personally - through his moronic regulatory mishmash, directly caused - not contributed to, mind, caused - the 'destructive run and the major problem for the British economy' we are all having to suffer through now. Namely, the worst peacetime recession in modern British history. That's how cognitively dissonant the Brown-Labour narrative is on the banking crisis and recession for which, I and many others maintain, Brown is directly responsible.

I'd say Osborne is absolutely, champagne cork-popping cockahoop tonight, and about a dozen Nokias have been obliterated on the bunker walls. It seems Bernanke and Obama alike are distancing themselves from the tainted loser that is Brown, just like that little French gnome Sarkosy did yesterday.

For them, at least, the penny really has dropped. They've abandoned Brown long before we'll get the chance to do precisely the same thing, in 2010.

The MSB

One thing that has struck me over the past few weeks is that an as-yet little recognised media phenomenon has been thrown into stark relief by the Climategate scandal, and it's not the MSM, of course. We always knew that they would follow on in the jet stream of this ever-growing story, pressured by the veritable torrent of people lending their support to the 'new realism' over so-called man made climate change (a sexist term in itself, if you want to be picky - ie: politically correct). The legacy media has once more been shown up for what it is: hopelessly old hat and out of touch with public opinion, preferring instead to peddle the alarmist lies, for the sake of ratings in ITV's case (you should have seen that channel's coverage on their 10 o'clock bulletin last night) or for the sake of politics in the case of the BBC. The newspapers have been fairly predictable, as one might imagine. Left wing rags have followed the left-green ideological armageddon scenario to the letter (naturally), while the rest of them have hedged themselves even deeper into a kind of editorial schitzophrenia.

So that's them, then. But what about the blogs? Well, something has now emerged that seems to me quite interesting, what you might call the "Main Stream Blogosphere." These would include established, high-traffic ones like Dale, Guido, Spectator, the Telegraph (especially Hannan and Delingpole, increasingly) and others I can't think of off the top of my head. What they have done, Guido included (but less so, to his credit), is played a similar game to the non-left media, they've set themselves up as some kind of adjudicators of the debate, thus providing themselves with protection for what they clearly view is their "credibility" among their high-powered political sources and buddies. By pretending to be outside the debate looking in (or down), they don't need to get off the fence. Thus they can avoid rocking the political boat and risk losing access to their MSM and lobby sources - and maintain what they regard as a principled editorial position which enables them to pass judgment on the great mass of genuinely independent, and genuinely (justifiably, given the nature of the revelations) critical, rational anti-MMCC blogs that make up the vast majority of the IB (the Independent Blogosphere). A political predilection has no bearing on these terms, only a willingness to speak one's mind when one feels moved to, and not to stand on the fence for any other reason than genuine agnosticism.

Take this recent Spectator post by David Blackburn, coming as it does hot on the heels of Fraser Nelson's editorial policy statement on Climategate for the paper edition:
Lord Lawson is Andrew Neil’s guest on this week’s BBC Straight Talk and, among other topics, the former chancellor rebuffs Ed Miliband’s accusation of climate change heresy. Lawson said:
“I hope that all parties…take a good hard look at this, we don’t want a sort of Stalinist monolithic line in everything. But I do think, because of the damage that will be done to the economy, that is why, and for very little good, if any, that is why we have got to take a good hard look at the fact that we can’t get a global agreement on this anyway, as will be seen in Copenhagen…So, I think you have got to go back to the drawing board and have a fresh approach. And that is why my think tank is the Global Warming Policy Foundation, it’s not the Global Warming Foundation, it’s the Global Warming Policy Foundation, because it is policy which is so damaging at the present time and threatening so much, and it doesn’t work and it can’t work, and that’s why we’ve got to think of another approach.”

Lawson’s comments are aimed at Cameron as much as anyone else, but he is not ‘denying’ the science, though I am sure he’s sceptical, and rightly so. Like David Davis, Lawson challenges the political approach inspired by the Prophet Stern, which will endanger global growth and condemn billions in the developing world to a slow and grinding death in poverty. Ed Miliband’s “saboteur” jibe proves what Fraser says in this week’s magazine: climate change has morphed from debate to catechism. It is now an issue bereft of rationality. A debate on policy, not science, is an immediate necessity - I fear all Copenhagen will amount to is a joyless shindig.

Rod Liddle was doing the same thing last week, as I wrote at the time, namely, calling for some sort of reasoned debate without actually saying which side of that debate he would feel moved to support. And here we have it again. Ordinarily, you might think that that's all fine and dandy: people are right to keep an open mind, you might think, and that would be true - if that was what was really going on here. Only, it's not. What you are seeing is confusion as the MSB has to face up to something it had hitherto taken for granted. The people who run these uber-news sites (they're not really blogs) had swallowed the whole AGW thing hook, line and sinker, at least publicly. It was the way the wind was blowing, after all. However, they've been left in something of a quandary by the fact that almost their entire readership is taking a much, much harder line on the issue: the traffic is moving!

People who read the MSB avidly, like me, never really thought of it that way before - up until now, that is. They previously regarded it as some form of blessed, independent news source free from the traditional forms of bias and/or strong-arm editorialism. Not any more. I'm afraid that one thing Climategate has done, in polarising the debate so completely, whether MSB hacks such as Nelson or Blackburn or Liddle - (the list goes on and on - you know who you are) - like it or not, and encouraging people to stand up and be counted on this great fraud, is smoke out the MSB from its comfort zone. And what a nuisance that must be for them. It's certainly a source of irritation if Liddle is anything to go by. That's a good thing because they need to get off the damn fence, show some backbone and call it as they really see it, because I strongly suspect that is exactly what they are not doing, for the reasons I've noted. (I actually - kind of - respect Will Heaven of the DT blogs for doing just that, though much good it did him! Mainly because he's wrong.)

My point is that the last thing we need is another "Main Stream" anything, much less an MSB, especially when mainstream thinking on this (and many other issues, lest we forget - NHS anyone?) is so compromised and ideological. But it looks like that's just what we have got. Ah well, maybe it was inevitable. It's just another emergent phenomenon in the cultural continuum - and could be just another sign that New Media really has come of age and truly eclipsed the old. So it's not all bad and besides, all of us little people can always vote with our blogrolls - and our mouses - if we're really that unhappy.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Loony Left Equals Loony Greens - And Vice Versa...

(As if we didn't know.)

Iain Dale spotted this extraordinarily vicious rant by left wing blogger and Labour stooge, Sunny Hundal, earlier this evening:

Look at the people who push global warming denialism: Fox News (enough said), The Telegraph (enough said), The Spectator (recently promoting AIDS denialism), Melanie Phillips (enough said), Christopher Booker (has anyone read his Wikipedia entry recently?), James Delingpole (enough said).

These are the kind of fuckwits (Delingpole, Richard North) who think there’s a conspiracy when their article doesn’t appear on Google News or use Google search hits as example of how big the story is.

Calling them ‘denialists’ is being too kind: they should be abused at every instance for the stupidity they churn out. They should be ridiculed, parodied, cussed, and constantly called out for the idiots they are because they deserve it.

Let the scientists do the science. But outside that world is a media full of bullshit artists who have vested interests in promoting ’scepticism’. The Spectator magazine’s hosting of the AIDS denialism film is just one small example. If we retreat on this war between ideologies by trying to be nice, while all they do is throw vitriol and propaganda, then we’ve already lost... There is no reason to take these people seriously or even off them an ounce of respect. If that means the political debate is charged – so be it.

Desperate.

It seems that this moron is calling on loony greens everywhere to be as "vitriolic" (to use his term), violently offensive and libelous/slanderous as possible wherever and whenever they detect any sign of criticism (or "scepticism" and "denialism" as they prefer to call it in their world of anti-debate) of the whole MMCC scam. But is he saying this in the name of the "Green" movement? Of course not, he's saying in the name of the socialist, labour movement to which he subscribes, which hijacked the Green agenda long ago and turned it into what it is today: a misanthropic, anti-capitalist, post-Soviet redux masquerading as an environmental crusade. It's therefore hardly surprising that the sickening slur "denier" is used so frequently. It deliberately associates critics of the warmist agenda with neo-nazis. (Marxists, socialists and communists always were very good at propaganda, after all. And nothing else.)

My point is that the next time anyone is smeared with the term "denier" in public, by dishonest socialists like Hundal, the answer is to sue for defamation. Immediately. It's that serious. Oh, and there I was wondering why the left has suddenly become so obsessed with the libel laws of Great Britain. Now I know: they want to make it impossible for people to protect themselves against mad watermelons like Hundal, who, once the libel laws of this country have been suitably twisted in their favour, would be able to call anyone anything he liked for any reason he chooses. For that reason, and many others, idiots like Hundal and his ilk, deaf as they are to criticism (mindless doctrinaire socialists always are) and blind as they are to the realities of climate change (it's got bugger all to do with people), can be considered a menace to democracy and a threat to freedom of speech and other inalienable human rights. And they should be treated as such; as loonies.

Unfortunately, they also happen to be calling the shots at the moment. So the peril is real. At least until a cure is found for the thought disease that is causing it.

Incidentally, if any doubt remains in your mind about the connection between post-soviet communists and the modern Green, AGW-pushing bandwagon, read this bizarre, pretty troubling article by "former" committed communist, Bea Campbell, from the Guardian (where else?) a few weeks ago. It's titled, rather unsurprisingly, "Why I turned from red to green."

Here's an extract if you can't face the whole thing:
The Green critique of modernity's Faustian recklessness helps to make sense not only of capitalism but also the tragedies of state socialisms. For progressives, whose politics hover between the centre and the far left, this is decisive.

The communist states of the 20th century did for socialism. I was a dynastic communist – my parents were British Bolsheviks, they were good citizens, and became better when Khrushchev gave permission to criticise Stalinism. All that crashed with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. They could not relinquish the Soviet Union, and thereafter our family rows were on the terrain of Russia. The worst insult my father could hurl was: "You're just a social democrat!"

I remained a communist until 1989, when it was all over. I was part of the anti-Stalinist, Euro-communist wing. We were clever, caused trouble, caught the imagination, but we lost. Or maybe we failed.

Green ideology represents the reconciliation of production and reproduction – that is what yields sustainability.

See? Once a red loony, now a green loony - but still really a red loony, just daubed with lashings of green propaganda. There's no epiphany, just extreme vanity and extremism. In fact, this person and so many like her are just about as egomaniacal as it's possible for a human being to be without actually regressing fully into some form of narcissistic solipsism; a complete but ecstatic break from reality. But they cling on with their fingernails and the support of like-minded, wrongheaded individuals, who serve merely to service and reinforce their delusions.

And people wonder why I'm doubtful that man made climate change is a real, measurable phenomenon, especially after the Climategate scandal (and the emerging, similar NASA story). Well, not people like the loony Hundal, actually. He just thinks I'm a nazi. Nice - and QED: the man is not sane.

One thing is certain, though, David Cameron might have gone green in the name of saving human beings from their tendency to like to keep warm, but he had better wake up to the fact pretty pronto that he's playing with political fire.

Blair's Millions

Excellent piece from the Renegade Economist today which traces some of Tony Blair's labyrinthine collection of funds, holding companies and legal entities that he's started since handing over his mandate to Gordon Brown. According to the Renegade, he's created a "complex web of structures involving 12 different legal entities handling the unprecedented millions he is receiving since he stepped down from office in 2007."

The article goes on:

So mystifying are the former prime minister’s financial structures – which involve highly specialised limited partnerships and parallel companies – that the Guardian today launches an open invitation to tax specialists and accountants to attempt to explain the motivation behind such structures. We have published the Companies House documents and other legal papers regarding the structure of the partnerships at guardian.co.uk and invite expert comment via our site at guardian.co.uk/politics/series/blair-mystery.

Thereis no suggestion Blair is doing anything illegal. But he refuses to explain the
purpose of the secretive partnerships.

Tax specialists say Blair could use these unusual arrangements at some point in the future to seek to transfer millions tax-free to his four children.
Blair denies, however, that the structures are such an inheritance tax avoidance scheme, known as a “family limited partnership”.

“Family limited partnerships” were being publicized to lawyers and accountants in November 2007 at the time Blair’s lawyers started to set up his structures.

Known in the trade as “Flips”, family limited partnerships are a way of getting round stricter inheritance tax rules in the 2006 budget, imposed by Gordon Brown while Blair was still prime minister.

'Flips', eh? Oh, the irony. Now, as yesterday evening's post on this blog shows, I'm not a little nervous about the Grauniad's journalistic standards, so I'm very pleased that an independent economics journal and blog has taken up the story. Indeed, the article then goes into far more detail than the Graun would ever dare about Blair's on-the-face-of-it legal but pretty irregular financial affairs, all designed (so the theory goes) to dodge inheritence tax, so little Leo will inherit all daddy's estimated, post-PM fortune of 14 million quid (and rising). "There, there. We won't let the beastly tax man have any of it." Perhaps Blair will be voting Tory in the next election (if he's actually registered to vote in the UK, that is).

Whichever way you choose to look at this, and the financial arrangements alone certainly seem worthy of the taxman's attention, it is worth remembering that Blair's pocket-lining at the expense of the British taxpayer, his early retirement (a breach of both a manifesto promise and of trust with 'the nation' - or 9 million suckers, rather- that gave New Labour under Blair, not Old Labour under Brown, a mandate to govern) and his subsequent ruthless exploitation of his ongoing popularity in the United States (if only they knew him as we do) are just the tip of the iceberg. They were (are?) all at it!

There can be no forgiveness for Blair for so many reasons, and he should be investigated for his dodgy businesses and questionable tax arrangements - just after he's been arrested over Iraq - but we must never forget that an awful lot more parliamentarians have been doing this under this Labour government for more than a decade and the worst, criminal offenders have been of the Labourist stripe. Now we know why. A management culture begins at the top. If the person at the top is a money-grubbing, ruthless exploiter of tax and expenses loopholes, the entire organisation's likely to follow suit. They're just copying the boss. Indeed, for the boss to feel OK about being so venal, he will positively (though quietly) encourage it. And that, folks, is called corruption.

And we've had 13 years of it. No wonder we're bankrupt: the country financially and parliament morally. Thank Brown for the former; Blair for the latter.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Guardian Declares War On Journalism

The Guardian's chief political correspondent, Nicholas Watts, has launched a ludicrous attack on Rupert Murdoch on behalf of Peter Mandelson (who else?) that'll appear in tomorrow's edition. There are some extraordinary claims that suggest a distinct and burgeoning paranoia on the part of the Labour Party - (you remember them, the ones that sucked-up to, erm, Rupert Murdoch for 12 years); a familiar, hypocritical stench surrounding Mandelson; and typically ovine support for any old nonsense from his pet newspaper, the good ol' Graun.

However ridiculous the story, though, it's might (ought to) cause one hell of a row, not least with the Tories.

Here are a couple of the more extraordinary claims (supported by zero evidence in the article itself, as far as I can see):
Lord Mandelson declared war on the Murdoch empire today when he accused News Corporation of maintaining an "iron grip" on pay television and warned that the company wants to import rightwing Fox News-style journalism to Britain.
Um, what? I know News International's just announced that it no longer wants people like me nicking their stories (big deal - and fair enough, they don't belong to me, and they're usually naff anyway) but that hardly amounts to an 'iron grip'. As for wanting to 'import rightwing [sic] Fox News-style to Britain', well, no complaints here. It might at least break the monopoly of the biased BBC - and be interesting, to boot. Again, though, Watts doesn't feel the need to substantiate the claim.
In a sign that Murdoch also faces a fight in Britain, Mandelson turned his fire on a joint Tory-News Corp campaign to dismantle the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom.
Again, no substantiation or evidence, just a repetition of an increasingly shrill Mandelson slur about a joint Tory-News Corp 'campaign'. This is the Guardian at its very, very worst in terms of journalistic standards. Have they seen any documents that support Mandelson's bizarre, shrill charges? Of course not. Do they care? Well, if Watts was a genuine journalist he would. But he doesn't so he's not. He's just a mouthpiece for mad Mandy.

But wait, what's this - further into the article? Evidence?

Cameron pledged to dismantle Ofcom during a speech in July devoted to "cutting back the quango state". The Tory leader said: "With a Conservative government, Ofcom as we know it will cease to exist."

James Murdoch, the chief executive of News Corp in Europe and Asia, accused Ofcom in August of imposing an "astonishing" burden of regulation on Sky.
Sorry folks, 'fraid not. For one thing, Cameron made his speech (about quangos) a month before Murdoch Jnr's machinegun assault on anything not Sky (which is sort of his job, after all - to make daddy proud). But still no 'evidence' there. Just more half-baked accusations and the flimsiest of flimsy circumstantial claptrap bordering on a waking dream. And anyway, James Murdoch was right, too! The burden of regulation on broadcasting generally in Britain is outrageous. Oh, unless you're the Beeb of course. Then you can do whatever they like, editorially and financially, despite being funded by a legally enforced tax.

In the end, of course, this is all about Mandelson who, ably served by his tame Guardian journalist, is pushing his ultra-partisan 'Digital Britain' bill, which is actually designed to do just one thing, and its not to secure Britain's digital future (there's no 'we' in Labour). It's to secure the left's control of the BBC from now until doomsday. Well, Pete, doomsday for you could be coming sooner than you think, with or without Murdoch's (junior or senior) help.

As for the Guardian, well, we've long known that its standards of journalism are basically the lowest in the entire legacy press, at least in terms of giving two hoots about even the pretence of impartiality, but this joke article represents an outright declaration of war on the profession itself. No evidence, just mindlessly parroted Mandelsonian smears; no attempt to qualify those claims, just dutifully reinforced prejudices.

I mean, how can it hope to be taken seriously if it keeps on behaving like the BBC? Obviously, we can expect more of this kind of crap as the general election nears, and it should be criticised for precisely what it is: activism and cynicism, not journalism.

The Graun had better remember that the Tories will probably win that election...and that they have long memories.

Brown's Memory

At work, but heard PMQs on the internet an hour ago. I thought Cameron was good - pretty forensic and challenging - and hitting all the right notes about Brown, the Prime Minister with such a short memory that he can't remember making a guarantee two weeks ago to start withdrawing British troops 'sometime in 2010'. He can't remember that he didn't abolish Boom n' bust, or his claim that Britain was best placed to weather the storm of (his) bust and subsequent recession. He can't even remember his own party's legislation on inheritance tax. Extraordinary. However, I thought, unlike a number of other bloggers, that while Brown was fairly good, he in no way 'won' the exchange - as if that's what it's all about.

The main reason? Well, the even more extraordinary lapse of memory from this putative chairman of the G20 that meant he didn't even know who's in the group he's supposed to be chairing. He thinks Spain is a member. He's forgotten (maybe) that it isn't and the major bloggers are consequently having a bit of a field day, but only Guido saw it coming.

Cameron's Rubicon

Jame's Forsyth puts it rather well:
The opinion polls are continuing to feed the story that the Tories are in trouble. Tonight’s Politics Home data which shows Cameron’s personal ratings dropping 15 points in the last 10 weeks follows a string of polls where the Tories have failed to break through the forty percent mark. Tory morale has been a bit shaken by these polls; Cameron could do with a decisive win at PMQs tomorrow to gee up the Parliamentary party. But turning these numbers around is, I suspect, going to require some policies that show us what David Cameron’s irreducible core is. Oddly enough, I don’t think these policies have to be particularly popular but they have to show the electorate that Cameron stands for something, that he isn’t just another say anything to win politician. Picking a fight on offering substantial recognition to marriage in the tax system might actually be a good strategy for Cameron in these circumstances. It would show that there are some things he will stand up for whatever the risks.
Cameron already has my vote, not because I've been especially impressed by him recently, but because base camp for climbing the Everest of hope - hope of a possible recovery economically and socially in the UK after the damage mercilessly wrought for 13 years by the worst government it has ever had inflicted upon it - is to vote them out by voting him in.

That's a no brainer (isn't it?).

However, Forsyth is right. Cameron must re-find his voice. He has to stop squabbling (potentially - apparently - possibly - corrupt Islamic schools in Haringey, serious though that might have been, is nonetheless mere squabbling - of the schoolboy variety. There are bigger fish to fry. Didn't they know that?!), and start fighting - preferably for what he believes in. Pre-Brown-Bust, I heard him talk about those things. And he convinced me then that he was the man. New face, fresh ideas, and sound. But time has passed and he has very definitely lost some of that focus - possibly, even, some of that initial hunger. I, for one, would sympathise were that the case, given what he's been through personally and given what now confronts him potentially, as a prospective PM (thanks to Brown).

But the whole, dynamic mechanism in a hardened old democracy like ours is the vital relationship between the politician, who wants the vote, and the voter, who wants to vote. And so the former must convince the latter that what she/he believes in precisely coincides with what you/you(?) believe in.

If David Cameron really wants to be Prime Minister, then that's where he needs to begin. As Forsythe suggests, he has to dare to bare his soul to the nation, at least in terms of his political philosophy (I know he has one), and then, by the baring, go on to win the debate that would inevitably be sparked with the electorate he seems so ambitious to lead.

It troubles me, however, because I suspect that that understanding, and confronting this political (and psephological) reality, will be like facing a personal Rubicon for an erstwhile (possibly) focus group, PR man like Cameron. It might simply be too difficult for him to cross. But let's hope he does cross it and then march on with a view, a vision and the confidence that those bring, because we, the electorate, are up the proverbial creak without a paddle if he doesn't.

If he's up to it, he'll do it. If he's not, he won't. Simple as.

God help everyone in this country if it's the latter.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

We're All Gonna Drown!

Boy, that didn't take long, did it? The warmist propaganda machine is now going into overdrive to try somehow to repair the damage of Climategate on the eve of the Copenhagen summit waste of everyone's time and our money.

This article will be splashed (ho ho) all over tomorrow's Times newspaper with its IPCC lala land "warning" that sea levels are going to rise by a thousand feet in six months unless we all commit suicide tomorrow (actually, it's only 60m according to arch AGW loon, James Hansen but let's not split hairs here, right?). All over the world, search engines have been doctored and large sections of the MSM has done all it can to bury the biggest scientific scandal of the modern era. Now they're moving into the next phase - Operation: Scare the Shit Out of Everyone. Lo and behold, here's their first offering, complete with tame German professor and a peer reviewed analysis (peer reviewed using the CRU, "have you hidden the decline?" approach, naturally) revealing new, devastating results of - well what, exactly? Something that might happen if a whole bunch of other stuff happens, based on models that tell them what should be happening - but isn't. Top research. Stop press. Cue banner headline. It's a scoop!

Read it and weep, folks. (Oh, and then, of course, "think of the children!")
Sea levels will rise by twice as much as previously predicted as a result of global warming, an important international study has concluded.

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) calculated that if temperatures continued to increase at the present rate, by 2100 the sea level would rise by up to 1.4 metres — twice that predicted two years ago.

Such a rise in sea levels would engulf island nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu in the Pacific, devastate coastal cities such as Calcutta and Dhaka and force London, New York and Shanghai to spend billions on flood defences.

Even if the average global temperature increases by only 2C — the target set for next week’s Copenhagen summit — sea levels could still rise by 50cm, double previous forecasts, according to the report.

SCAR, a partnership of 35 of the world’s leading climate research institutions, made the prediction in the report Antarctic Climate Change and Climate. It far exceeds the 0.59 metre rise by the end of the century quoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. This was based on a “business as usual” approach by governments that allowed temperatures to rise by 4 degrees. It will underpin the negotiations in Copenhagen.

SCAR scientists said that the IPCC underestimated grossly how much the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets would contribute to total sea-level rises.

Well at least the authors of this report had the sense to use the suitably hedging conditional "would" instead of the usual, hysterical 'will' of AGW fanatics. (And if the sun exploded, we'd all get pretty warm very quickly, right?) Mind you, they had little choice on that one, as this comment on a Telegraph blog (well known climate change activist's, Will Heaven...erm) points out:

The satellite measurement of the arctic ice coverage for yesterday (28th Nov) was 10,362,813 sq kms. On the same day in 2006 it was 9,597,969 sq kms. That represents a growth of 8%.

Source: http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

Quite aside from that is the fact that all those millions of square miles of frozen Arctic water is floating on - um - more water, which, as everyone knows (don't they?), kindergarten physics tells us would not cause sea levels to rise millimeter-one if it was all boiled into the sea by a really quite humongous blowtorch tomorrow. But, you know what? Little things like demonstrable, reproducable scientific knowledge really doesn't matter any more. Climategate has demonstrated that we're not really dealing with science here at all, be it kindergarten or otherwise. We're dealing with a ruthless and ongoing deception.

This Times article, with its now all-too familiar end-of-days, alarmist propaganda mixed in with suspiciously timed, dodgy science reports and interviews with the usual suspects from the IPCC (Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, is a former railway engineer for God's sake) merely serves further to demonstrate that while the blogosphere remains free (for now), the increasingly schitzoid MSM is basically in thrall to the prophets (yes, I agree, that should read "profits") of doom. In point of fact, the manner in which the report ends seems to prove my point (about the schitzoid nature of the legacy press).
Sceptics seized upon his figures as further evidence of the unreliability of climate change predictions.

“It’s 50cm, 60cm, 100cm — 60m if you ask James Hansen from Nasa,” said Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation . “The predictions come in thick and fast, but we take them all with a pinch of salt. We look out of the window and it’s very cold, it doesn’t seem to be warming. We’re very concerned that 100-year policies are being made on the basis of these predictions”

I suppose they would call that balance, but the use of the warmist term of abuse "sceptics," (euphemistic codespeak for the vicious slur "denier" and/or the debate-killing "crank"), instead of the usual (and balanced) "critics" suggests to me that at the very least - and this is a generous conclusion - post-Climategate they simply don't know how to frame this issue any more.

They don't know, I don't (really) know - and neither does the IPCC or SCAR or the rest of the AGW industry.

But the difference is, one of us isn't being honest, and Climategate has shown us all who that is.

==Update==
Past my bedtime, but I've just seen this hilarious comment by somebody calling herself (I presume) "Auntie Mavis" under the Times scare story in question:
jim king wrote:
"1. Put a large ice cube in a glass.
2.fill it to the brim with water.
3.The ice cube will protrude above the surface.
4.Wait till the ice cube melts
5. In the doomsday theory the scare mongers would have you believe the protruding ice that has now melted will over flow.
6.It never will because ice displaces it's own volume.
7. When water freezes it expands.
8. So the reverse happen's when it melts
9. Simple school boy facts."

Now do it with the ice on top of a column of concrete with the water level up to the top. Watch the water flow over the top when the ice melts.
You what? This uber-hoon really seems to believe that someone - or something, perhaps - dropped a trillion trillion tons of ice on top of the sea at the polar ice caps. Mind you, she's probably an A-level Physics teacher (though fairly new to the profession - and the subject - it would seem) given that she appears to know more about all powerful space aliens that like to drop huge lumps of ice on unsuspecting, mostly harmless, planets, than Archimedes' principle.

Very, very stupid. That's what we're up against folks.